In just 11 days Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise reached a divorce settlement.
For most of us, the thought of reaching an agreement with our former spouse in just 11 days seems like a fantasy. How were they able to do it so quickly? From what I can tell there are two major factors that allowed the actors to reach such a rapid agreement.
First, they entered into their marriage from a standpoint of starting a business together. Despite Tom's use of Oprah's couch as a trampoline when he announced his love for Katie, their marriage wasn't just a romantic notion. They realized that marriage is actually a legal agreement much like a business partnership. Katie and Tom worked with lawyers to cover the possible contingency of their partnership not working and so had a prenuptial agreement that was very solid. This business approach to their marriage removed a good portion of what they could have spent time arguing about during their negotiations.
Second, they each know that Suri needs both of her parents. Despite how they may feel about each other, they apparently respect the other as their daughter's parent and know they will need to have regular contact with each other to effectively parent Suri.
I know that very, very few of us enter into marriage (at least our first marriage) with any thought other than living happily ever after. For many, the thought of a pre-nup is admitting to the failure of the marriage before it even begins and we just don't want to do that. The thing to take from Katie and Tom's example is the way they were able to be in business mode and not operating from an emotional state when working on their agreement. Yes, I know that getting divorced is highly emotional, however, being highly emotional while trying to reach a settlement will only make the process more painful and more expensive. It's imperative that you remain as business-like as possible while working with your attorney and/or mediator so you don't end up arguing about things like who gets which games for the Wii or who gets the crockpot.
Your child(ren), just like Suri, love both their parents and (unless there is some real reason to fear for your child's safety) need to be able to spend time with both their parents. The question to ask yourself as you're working through the parenting plan isn't what's best for you, but what's best for your child(ren) in allowing them to have strong relationships with both their parents.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
How business-like are you being with your dealings with your attorney and/or mediator? Being business-like includes things like taking notes when you speak with your attorney and/or mediator, making notes about specifically what you need additional information on before you contact them, and keeping the emotional roller coaster out of their office as much as possible. What might you do to be more business-like and reduce the emotional, financial and time expenses of your settlement?
How are you supporting your child(ren) in having their other parent in their life? We hear so much about how kids of divorce suffer. One of the primary ways they suffer is by having their parents stand in the way of their relationship with their other parent. Do what you can to support you child(ren) in spending time with their other parent and you'll see some of you child(ren)'s stress around the divorce decrease because they won't have to feel guilty about wanting to spend time with the both of you.
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Karen Finn, Ph.D. is the creator of The Functional Divorce Coaching Program. She works with people in all phases of divorce who struggle with moving on and who want to find the direction they need to take their lives so they can be confident and happy again. Visit http://www.functionaldivorce.com to learn more about Karen's work and to register to receive her newsletter. Karen Finn, Ph.D. owns the copyright to this article and reserves all rights to it.